Step 1: Listening closely to situations and stories without evaluation or blame. The first step is to clearly identify the situations. Describing these situations/stories without evaluation or blame marks the beginning of healthy relating. In order to clearly state what could be called “energy-charged” situations it is important to be present in the moment, listen closely, and note observations that are specific to time and context.
We begin by asking: Who is involved? Where/when did it happen? What is going on?
Step 2: Sorting, naming, and expressing our feelings. Feelings are the emotions we experience in the moment that we can categorize and name. Feelings give us information about ourselves, our relationships, and our experiences that are not available from logic or thinking alone. Our lives become healthier and happier as we are able to express an assortment of feelings and subtle nuances of related feelings. As we express our feelings and listen deeply to the feelings of the other person we connect emotionally. Increased self-awareness is a natural outcome of using the steps and playing the I Can Relate game.
Step 4: Responding with empathy and kind actions. Empathy is deep, careful, and authentic listening for another’s feelings and needs. One way to respond to situations is by learning to give and receive empathy. Developing a skill called, “empathy guessing” helps build strong relationships. Once we identify needs, we can then figure out what will help and we can identify kind actions. This skill promotes responding with intention rather than reacting impulsively. Often, just being aware of what needs we have in the moment gives us a sense of hope because we have a clearer picture of what is important to us.
Step 3: Sorting, naming, and connecting our needs (and coping with anxiety or anger). Our needs are basic to our health and well-being. Needs are our deepest longings, desires, and values about what matters most to us in life. Anxiety and anger are the most common inhibitors to well-being. Anxiety or anger often get in the way of identifying our needs. Noticing and valuing our needs that are often embedded under our feelings is the most important step. Needs are thought-based and provide direction. Once we identify the needs of those involved in a situation (including ourselves), we are equipped to respond with kind actions and empathy.
In Counseling Settings: